English: First Squad: The Moment of Truth
Synonyms: Pervyi Otryad, Первый Отряд
Status: Finished Airing
Aired: May 13, 2009
Duration: 1 hr. 13 min.
Rating: R - 17+ (violence & profanity)L represents licensing company
Score: 6.281 (scored by 8838 users)
1 indicates a weighted score
2 based on the top anime page.
Popular TagsNo tags found
Jul 17, 2010
Ok, there are many reasons this is not a good movie, and I believe the fact that it is a WW2-inspired fantasy flick isn't one of them. It's the fact that it attempts to do things well, takes itself seriously (look at the official site), announces that loudly… and fails at executing nearly every single one of them.
Perhaps the most dreadful offender is the documentary shots that *interrupt* the brief moments of action that actually happens on the screen. They attempt to explain some of the surreal and nonsensical things, but do a piss-poor job at doing so. The most unintentionally ironic comment comes from one of the psychoanalysts who says that human brain is capable of producing hallucinogenic substances by itself under certain conditions, almost completely invalidating the testimony of some of the veterans who spoke about mystic events that have supposedly happened there.
They also attempt to build up the atmosphere of the war by sharing impressions of the veterans who fought there. But it looks so out-of-place it's not even funny. By this point people should know what WW2 is. Hell, they could have *seen* it in the movie if it did a better job at showing how bad it was! And trust me, fast-paced action sequences have little to do with it. Watch Elem Klimov's Come and See (Иди и смотри / Idi i smotri) for a very realistic war movie with very little action and nearly no gore that still manages to instill almost primordial sense of fear and desperation without the viewer actually having to experience the horrors of war firsthand. Or at least watch Grave of the Fireflies if you insist it be anime. It's not remotely as good, but it gets the job done quite well anyway. It might be laziness, it might be First Squad writers' incapability to tell things without saying them out loud, it might be something else — the result is anything but impressive.
I knew the movie was going to be nothing close to the music video that preceded it — in fact, I didn't even remember its content when watching the full-length feature. However, the fact that all the First Squad characters except the protagonist only appear in the movie for a few minutes came as a complete surprise. Obviously, none of them are developed — even the protagonist. Most of them don't even resemble people living in USSR in 30s/40s. The Russian/Soviet culture enjoys an undeservedly brief and ostentatious showing (I laughed at wooden toys, I still remember those) from time to time only to succumb to the real killers such as Zina's tank top below a winter coat. I wonder where she got it back in 1942! Nadya wielding, of all things, a *Japanese* sword using *Japanese* fencing techniques is not any less ridiculous. After all, we had a war with Japan at the beginning of the century, and fought against them again in WW2 — that's not to mention that techniques such as iaido are but completely useless against armored enemy… that is, pretty much every enemy Nadya fought with her katana. A fragile girl successfully deflecting strikes of a huge blade wielded by a muscular man in heavy armor while fighting in deep snow doesn't come off as a surprise after all that. I mean, we already brought up cliché occultism scenarios, complete disregard for anachronisms in design and logic in story development, so why not abolish laws of physics while we are at it? I won't even mention other small but important details that showed lack of professionalism on the part of designers and writers, it'll be a long and boring list that will only be required for the most ignorant out there to see the scale of failure on every level.
I'll touch the subject of art and sound quality briefly because there's not much to say about it. I've seen most of S4C's output, and I know they can do much better. But it's not bad by any means, it's just… average. Action scenes, where we actually get to see them, are acceptable if you don't count the amount of extremely unlikely scenarios, deus ex machina moments, and other tropes and banalities so common for your typical anime fare.
Oh, and one of the worst things to plague your viewing enjoyment is the fact that the movie starts abruptly, skips around a lot, and ends exactly as abruptly, leaving us with an idea of a sequel that is unlikely to ever come. There's neither coherence nor significance in everything that is shown. The whole thing just seems brainstormed and pieced together overnight. The perfect sign of an initially workable movie idea foiled by amateur writing. If there was any writing, of course. It looks like an anime movie made by anime movie fans that know how to make anime… but don't know how to make it good.
VERDICT: ambitious, but ultimately amateur fantasy flick that builds up a lot of hype and has absolutely nothing to show for it. 4/10, not enjoyable and not recommended to anyone, especially to those who are into war movies, historic events, or action in general… least of all to fellow former USSR residents.
Also, why is 4 "decent" while 5 is "mediocre"? That's pretty confusing, because this movie isn't decent, but is definitely below mediocre. read more
Mar 17, 2010
Enter, First Squad: The Moment of Truth. I have seen many of S4C's animated shorts recently and have been a fan of most of their work. So to find a full length movie by them got me excited. And to realize its all in its 'native' language got me even more hyped up because, how often do you get to watch anime (or even movies) in native languages? It also adds to the level of detail this story tries to tell.
If you have ever watched any type of war documentary, the stories the people being interviewed tell are usually somber tales of death or explanations of why things happen. Some people, don't mind telling their war stories but for most people, their experiences are kept so secret that revealing their story for the first time may be hard to tell. Such is the case for some of the war vets (and scientists) in the 'inserts' of this movie. Most of the inserts felt like they contributed to the story well, sometimes explaining what the next scene is. If you think too hard during these segments your head will explode considering it is all fantastical. If you have experienced any S4C anime shorts you already know that most of the time the story is just plain confusing. This is completely an anime story at heart.
Which is why the viewer needs to watch this with an open mind. The story is more of an alternate universe WWII where magic is real. Many anime and movies have taken this approach and met great success (Valkyria Chronicles and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade?). Taking this anime serious should be thrown out the window from the moment you realize who is a clairvoyant or during the meeting with 'Gandalf'. The story is a very typical David and Goliath type with the frail looking Nadya Ruslanova taking on insurmountable odds. Almost kind of sounds like a shounen anime right? Well it is :)
Don't let the MAL database fool you, the only main character of this movie is Nadya and you follow her from her early beginnings all the way to the end credits. The other characters are mainly support characters and are not shown enough to matter. As for Nadya, you'll either love or hate her. I grew attached to her because she just looks so frail that you just want to protect her. With all the war and bloodshed and overall grittiness, seeing a little girl barely weighing 100lbs (45kg) walk across the Russian tundra will definitely create some sort of empathy for the protagonist.
I'll say this about S4C, they are definitely not the best when it comes to animating but they are better than most. What they truly do shine in is the amount of detail they put in every scene. Backgrounds and any other inanimate objects gets the largest amount of detail. Varying ink blots from the pressures of a typewriter, all the trails routes and tracks on the battle map, Moscow's skyline and even Moscow's unique Subway/bomb shelter, is all great eye candy. Lets not forget that this is a war anime. There will be blood and lots of it. I did find it weird that there was more blood than action but that didn't hinder the experience.
This movie isn't all that bad at all. It's no different than any other anime in terms of plot holes and inconsistency. It's major selling point for me was the whole visual and audio package. If a movie/anime setting is in Russia, LET THEM SPEAK RUSSIAN ^_^ It adds so much in terms of immersing yourself in the movie. And the overall art quality of this show is just amazing. I'd place S4C just below Studio Ghibli and Makoto Shinkai. I think that's a pretty elite list.
Anyone who is a fan of WWII fiction, Studio 4C fan, or even wants to see something truly unique. should at least give this anime a shot or two. If you truly hate the mockumentary inserts nothings stopping you from fast forwarding them. The whole concept of this anime makes me want another movie of this type. Not a sequel per se but something with this idea. read more
Oct 8, 2009
I'm going to be using a more freeform style for Movie reviews, as they are much smaller and I can describe my feelings for the movie in a much clearer fashion.
Studio 4°C’s anime transcends the borders of Japan. From Linkin Park's "Breaking the Habit", to the Animatrix, and even to the Gotham Knight, their portfolio is varied and extensive. First Squad, their latest effort, is a collaboration between two Russian directors and 4°C, crossing the sea once again to create international anime. I had high hopes for First Squad, as the Studio's last movie, Tekkon Kinkreet, was excellent. However, the bullets of the collaboration were quick to puncture my hopes; after an hour and thirteen minutes they looked like swiss cheese.
The story of First Squad is told in a unique fashion: meshing live action documentary with more traditional animation. There is an interesting interplay, as Russian scholars and veterans ground the fantastical story into reality. First Squad could be commended on this approach if the story itself were not so weak. The plot is predictable; the Nazi's are beckoning vengeful spirits from the other realm, and the Russian's need to stop them. The characters don't do much to salvage the poor tale. The pacing is erratic and disjointed, jumping from scene to scene with little sense of cohesion. The movie's namesake, the First Squad, is a poorly developed cast, with only slivers of background ever filled in. Nadya, the main antagonist, is drawn from clichés –an amnesiac psychic who would give life and limb for country.
The voice acting didn't help prop up the narrative. The Russian voice actors sound deflated, their flat voices conveying plastic emotion. The music was passable, a boisterous overture in the opening that harkens to any military film. The rest of the score is appropriate, weaving melodies from low growling organs with the rhythmic hum of violins.
Studio 4°C does deliver the goods on the art. A muted palette washes over the snowy seas of the Eastern Front. Moscow’s majesty is quiet from the war-torn world, a stark contrast to the Gloom World, a twisted realm where fallen warriors continue to tear at one another. Russia is a feast to look at. Excellent CGI is threaded together with top-notch animation. Artists made a successful effort in modeling the characters, drawn to have a distinctive Caucasian look.
First Squad, to say the least, disappointed me. Despite the pretty little black dress it wears, what is inside does not satisfy. The story is forgettable, the characters are paper-thin, and the voice acting isn’t exactly inspiring. I praise Studio 4°C for attempting to blend two styles –documentary and anime. Hopefully this method of storytelling won’t be thrown to the wayside, and will be used to create a much more engaging and entertaining experience. read more
Jan 11, 2011
First Squad: The Moment of Truth is loosely based on a music video made by Studio 4C, who also made the movie. The story is set on the eastern front during the opening days of World War II. The main character is a young girl called Nadya, member of a secret unit of the Soviet army consisting of teenagers with supernatural powers, who have been drafted and trained to fight off the German advances. With all her squadmates dead, Nadya now finds herself alone in the barren and frozen Russian landscape.
She soon gets involved in a plot to fight against an SS officer who plans to raise an army of 12th century crusaders and have them help conquer the Soviet Union. The cast of characters is largely forgettable, save for a man taking on the role of Obi-Wan Gandalf, and of course, Nadya herself. Her interactions with her crewmembers, as shown in flashbacks, is largely uninteresting, and only one of them seems to actually have been friends with Nadya. The rest might just as well have been strangers, which bothered me.
The brave, little Nadya is a character you grow to like very quickly. She is a frail, young girl, wandering alone over the tundra, and being chased by forces that in comparison seem insurmountable.
The pacing is good, even if it takes some time for the plot to kick off. The animation is sometimes broken up documentary (or if you will, mockumentary) style, with live-action clips of (probably false) Russian and German war veterans and historians talking about the story as it progresses, which I found to be a nice touch.
The animation is very well done, and the incorporation of CG is nearly flawless. While the animation is not mind-blowing, though high above average standards, what sticks out is how detailed everything is. The backgrounds are generously decorated, the characters all look realistic, and the artists have really done a good job of accentuating the loneliness and hardships Nadya must endure.
One thing that makes this stand out from just about all other anime set in Europe, is that it is not in Japanese. All the voices are originally Russian, and while I have little experience with Russians and their language, they do a good job of bringing the characters to life, especially Elena Chebaturkina (Nadya) and Sergei Aisman (the big baddy). The music is also great, especially the opening and ending songs, which of course would be expected from DJ Krush, whose previous works include a song in LittleBIGPlanet and some other soundtracks. It becomes apparent very quickly that the directors have put effort into making the music fit its Slavic setting.
All in all, I recommend this movie to anybody who has seventy-three minutes of free time. It is a good experience, and if you are interested in WWII, the Soviet Union or just fictional war dramas, then you should definitely watch this. read more
Oct 6, 2009
Story (3/10): The premise is not terribly deep and can be summed up quite quickly; basically the Nazi's want to summon this ghost to kill all of the Soviets, so the Soviets send this clairvoyant teenage girl fight the ghost. The premise isn't amazing, but the movie could have still been good despite that. Where the story really goes bad are during these documentary-esque live action scenes with 'war veterans' and 'historians' (who are not actually war veterans or historians). The scenes do very little to help advance the plot and don't help add to the back story. The movie without the live action scenes would have been just as good, if not better, as they really interrupt the flow at some points. Also the climax was disappointingly short and the movie ended with a 'cliff hanger' that didn't leave me wanting more.
Art (8/10): The art was probably the only thing preventing me from giving this movie a 1/10. The animation, for the most part, was excellent. It wasn't mind blowing, but it was consistent and enjoyable. The only downside to the art was the live action scenes, which were mostly just people talking in front of a dark background, and one person was really quite ugly. I don't just mean not attractive, I mean I almost couldn't stand to watch that scene. Still the live action scenes were short so overall the animation was very good.
Sound (6/10): The voices are in Russian (with a few possible cases of German, not sure though), but I don't really hold that for or against the movie. As for the music, I didn't really notice any amazing music, but I didn't really notice any bad music either. Overall the sound didn't really affect my opinion of the movie at all.
Character (2/10): The characters were awful. The movie is only an hour long, so I can understand somewhat limited development, but there are just too many characters who are literally not introduced at all (random guy with a wooden staff, Nazi chicks with guns, General Below, etc). The only excuse for the poor characters that I could see is that everyone other than the main character doesn't exist because the main character is just a schizo (similar to "A Beautiful Mind"), but there's no big twist, and any speculation that the main character is crazy is left as speculation. There was one decent flashback, which added some actual character depth, but it wasn't enough to help the overall dreadful characters.
Enjoyment (1/10): By about 1/2 way through the movie I was just waiting for it to be over. Some people may find it more enjoyable, but I was really put off by the live action scenes, lacking story, and shallow characters. The animation was good, but it just couldn't compensate for everything it had going against it. From the synopsis I was expecting some epic 12th century sword-fighting during WW2, but there was only a minute or two of sword fighting throughout the whole movie. The movie could have really benefited from any kind of twist, but it didn't have one and it just ended up like a bad joke without a punchline.
Overall (2/10): Obviously I'm not going to stop anyone from watching this movie, but I'd have to seriously recommend against it. There's a two minute trailer on Youtube which has every bit of action and story in the movie. Just watch that and save yourself the other hour and 11 minutes of poor story and underdeveloped characters. read more
Nov 20, 2009
First of all, it isn't something complete and standalone. The creators of the movie didn't pretend to have accomplished all their goals in one fifty-something-minute piece. They couldn't, and they haven't. The end of the film is just the point where all events are launched and all characters are deployed, and what happens next is the matter of the sequel. Placing some final rating for the story at this point would be as hurried as, for example, judging a TV series by the first few episodes.
Second, it's a myth. Till today, most stories about World War II are either facts cut and bent to the purposes of propaganda, or myths and legends told in a dull and fact-like manner and also bent to the purposes of propaganda. This time, instead, the myth is told in exactly the right way for a myth to be told. Heroic all along, supernatural all around, unreal enough, believable enough, no ideology behind.
Now, on to what I've actually seen in there.
Art and sound: both great and very well fit for an action movie. The art gives a superb feeling of Soviet reality (though some details are deliberately taken from diffenent times, everything is very realistic), sights of war are also quite plausible.
Characters: we get only briefly acquainted with everyone during the movie, there's hardly any place for character development in there. Yet all characters are well thought-out, lively, memorable, with individual traits, all having potential to shine brighter in the sequel. It's natural that the main character, Nadya, gets the lion's share of character disclosure and development, with revelations of her past and the clear feeling of drama ahead of her.
Story: quite a promising beginning of a bigger plot. Though action-centered and bombastic, it gives a proper feeling of a myth and leaves the viewer wondering, "What will come next?" In the end, there's quite a bunch of possible roads to go for each of the characters, all of them equally unpleasant for the characters and promising for the audience.
Overall: I enjoyed it, but it wasn't enough. Hope for an even better sequel.
Note: first I watched the "animation-only" version in the cinema, and then I've seen the variation with "talking heads" insets. Well, those talks are good in themselves, crazy enough to match the story - yet they just don't belong in an animation film, that's all. The movie is better without them. They could make a good bonus video for the DVD edition, though. read more
Oct 18, 2009
So I grabbed a drink, some snacks, made my self comfortable in my armchair and morally prepared myself to watch this promising film. It is to my disbelief that as the movie progressed the plot looked more and more disappointing. Despite amazing animation and stunning detail the atmosphere is missing. It becomes obvious that authors failed to connect the fantastic story with this rich realistic setting. As we follow main character Nadya, we are able to experience the grief for the dead, the hate towards the enemy and determination to go on. However, the fantastic ability to revive friends, to fight skilfully with a katana (why Russian girl is carrying a katana remains to be understood) and to easily defeat her foes whoever they may be, completely negate all those strong feelings towards the horrible period. The fights are abrupt, disjointed and always end with the victory for the good guys making the deep, dark atmosphere dissipate and even look ridiculous: why on Earth all these people die if you can just have Nadya slice the Germans up and send them all the way back to Berlin?
The characters are quite interesting. Nadya's friends look very much like the heroic portrayals of children of the War, the brave street kids who sometimes had more determination than adult soldiers. The Russian actors do their jobs well; the dialogues are well structured and are nice to listen to. Despite this, we don't have enough time to learn about these people, they look distant and therefore their presence is easy to ignore, especially for someone who doesn't speak Russian and doesn't know much about Slavic culture.
One feature which is worth highlighting about First Squad is historical commentary done by war veterans, psychologists and historians who explain a little bit about War and create a very nice connection between the film and the reality. However, as the story takes a mystical spin it wasn't necessary to have someone justify fictional facts about "spiritual connections with the world of the dead". There is a thin line between real historical facts and speculation, and as the story progresses, you see real people talking about Soviets communicating with the dead which looks absolutely ridiculous.
In conclusion, First Squad: The Moment of Truth is a major disappointment. It holds little value in terms of story or in terms of documentary. If you want to have a nice fictional anime to watch there are plenty of other films and shows which would be a much better investment of your time. Likewise, if you want to find out more about Great Patriotic War there are lot of great documentaries and books you can look at. It is a real shame that the authors failed to deliver and this setting remains an open ground for anime directors to explore. Perhaps one day we will be given a chance to witness a real masterpiece. Unfortunately, not this time. read more
May 13, 2013
Allow me to share my opinion on perviy otryad.
First Squad impressed me with its storytelling. Interviews with veterans WW2 really amazed me, but I think it worked against them. The movie is 73 minutes long. It’s really hard to keep story-line ok. It was unnecessary.
At first glance, this movie would appear to be a retelling of WWII through the eyes of the Soviet Union. But look more attentively, a girl with katana?
All in all they left many details in the plot unanswered, plus this movie could have been breathtaking masterpiece, alas Russians turned story precipice.
Pretty good, not excellent. I have expected much more from the movie about WW2.
The character designs were good. The soldiers weren't spectacularly dressed and they looked exactly like you would expect a soldier from the World War2 to appear: dirty, exhausted, and frightened.
There was no real soundtrack to First Squad. This works to its advantage. The film doesn't rely on music to draw out your emotions; instead it allows its animation and sound effects to do the talking. You will hear the roaring of the planes, the buzzing of the bullets screams of people it’s the best soundtrack,because it helped to set atmosphere.
Terrible. Character development you say? There is none. Flashbacks which gave more obscure things to this anime.
Yes, it has so many flaws, but for 73 minutes it was pretty ok.
The animation and sound were the highlights of this anime, nothing disappointed me more than the pathetic story arc and character details. It’s a sure thing that there won’t be tv,ova another movie. So why they left sooo many questions?
All in all this anime is ok, it’s only 73 minutes long, you won’t lose so much of your time.
Aug 9, 2012
If you guys wanna know why I did had some hopes for this anime, it's because of the creative plot in First Squad. Taking place in the beginnings of World War 2 in 1942, it tells the story about a girl named Nadia, a child with psychic abilities who lives as an orphange, who is also tormented by the horrors of war and her friends, who were hunted down by German soldiers and Nadia was the only one left alive of the First Squad group. Then, The Nazi army are desperate to defeat the forces of Russia and decided to go to a group occult to resurrect the spirits of the dead, that was lead by this vicious Templar knight known as Barren Van Wolf and therefore, Nadia must contact the dead souls of her friends to fight along side with her and to defeat Barren Van Wolf before Nazi's destroy Russia. It sounded so fucking great on paper, but they had to screw it up with the goddamn awful execution that this film did. It leaves too many questions with no answers, like what the hell is this First Squad and why are they so special? Why did Barren Van Wolf became an evil bastard to kill all those people? and here's another question, How did Nadia got the power to see the future when in her flashbacks tell that she was just a normal person, who she and her parents were just a bunch of circus performers!?!?!?!? EXPLAIN ANIME!! EXPLAIN!!!
This anime also has one of the worst character developments I've ever even experienced in an anime. It's so rushed and it doesn't even give you time to feel connected to the characters and these characters barely have any backstory or reason to be in the story, cause it doesn't give you time to know them. Also, the villains are either bland or stupid, cause jesus, the Nazi commander is barely even interesting or fun to watch, he just stands in the hall in one scene and in the other, he just raises dead people to fight alongside with him..... WEAK! Nadia's friends at least have some personalities to boot, but it can't save them from the rushed script and incredibly short length of the movie and speaking of which, the movie was too goddamn short!!! It was only 75 minutes of the movie and it went out so fast, that I asked myself "WTF just happened right now?!" If the film was longer, it could have add more story and character development to the characters, because this anime needed it so badly, that it's fun factor just drops dead into the final climax of the film and BTW, the climax of the film was bullshit, it ended too fast and it was BORING! It makes the climax of Dragonball: Evolution look awesome in comparison. The onl good thing about the anime is the animation by Studio 4C, cause it does look beautiful and the city of Russia is well animated and I really enjoyed the musical score by DJ Krush, but since the anime is goddamn short, it doesn't add a lot of value to it. The voice acting is pretty good and it's also available in Russian language, which is a nice option for those who wants to learn to speak Russian I guess.
First Squad had so much potential with the plot and creative ideas, that in the end it gets butchered in the development process and what we got is an anime with more style than substance. An epic pile of donkey dog piss of an anime that should be avoided at all cost. read more
Oct 9, 2010
Sep 27, 2009
First of all, this anime has a serious and global topic (you know, World War II was terrible for all people, especially for Russians). The autors had showed the negative side of the war so foreign people can learn some important information about the Soviet culture, fighting spirit and, finally, about different people. It's a very great idea, I support it!
The characters are awesome! Every person has an individuality, his/her own specific qualities. But I wonder why some Russian people are blond like Nadya? They are dark blond! Almost forgot: I like the main heroine's name very much because in Russia it means "hope" - the most important thing for poor and frightened people.
I think this anime is a masterpiece because it showed (partly) the real situation of war and the real life of brave Young Pioneers and dashing soldiers. But there is a little problem for me: I can't understand the ending... Hope you can understand it properly. read more
Dec 26, 2010
More detailed acknowledgement showed it was not that bad. The idea and the story were decent (mixing GPW and magic is interesting at least), moreover, the art was well-done. And watching usual anime stamps (like the scene in the garden, or Leo, or two Nazi agents) in the context of Soviet reality was quite unusual and fun (however, they made the story hard-to-believe in).
And here goes the point. I put a 7 due to the fact that I just DID NOT BELIEVE the anime and its creators. The idea like "enemies summon knights, and a Russian girl Nadya summons 4 pioneer friends and they win" is sooooo old and unbelievable (say hello to American action movies!). The characters are also hard-to-believe in: there could be no bright lipstick or katana or pink teddy bear, and I really doubt that a Soviet boy could kiss a girl so simply. IMHO, there is either too much or too little realism, and the true motifs of the creators remain unclear.
To sum up, if you see First Squad as a fairy tale action in the setting of GPW, it is ok. If you want something more - better give your hopes up. read more